2 years ago
Jerusalem (city of David):
We arrived in Jerusalem the night before and then set out in the morning to a location from which Jesus would have looked over the city. We read Psalm 121-122 and share wine. Our guide reminds us of an important passage of Scripture which Solomon prayed over this city. Solomon asked that God would answer the prayer of any person from another nation who came to Jerusalem and prayed here.
1 Kings 8:41–43 (ESV) “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, comes from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they shall hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by Your name.
The guide gives us a moment to pray alone and I ask (among other things) for God to send revival to New England. May it come, Lord!
From there we head to the remains of Herod’s Temple, past the Western Wall (we will see that later), and into the underground tunnels and current excavations being done in the Temple Mount. It is stunning to think this is where Solomon built the temple 2800 years ago, where Ezra oversaw the building of the second temple (2400 years ago) and where Herod built his enormous and elaborate Temple (2100 years ago). Unbelievably, you can look down about 6-7 floors and see some of the remains of Solomon’s Temple. Crazy.
Outside the Temple we see the steps going into the gate where Peter may have proclaimed the Gospel on the day of Pentecost. The guide shows us the remain of 100s of “Mikvehs”.
Mikvehs are ritual baptism pools the Jews used as they entered the Temple for three annual feast-day pilgrimages (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles). Now what is so incredible about these pools is how many there are, literally over 100. Our guide informs us that THIS is how 3000 believers are able to be baptized on the day of Pentecost, the pools were waiting. This REALLY happened!
Every Mikveh has seven steps with a divider down the middle. The imagery being that you do not come out of the waters the same way you went in. This is a profound illustration of our Baptism into Christ! I took a picture of the illustration for clarity:
City of David:
We head off to tour the “City of David”, a portion of the city believed to house the ruins of David’s palace. The climbing today is exhausting for many and I happily attain my “Activity” goal on my watch within hours!
Excavations here are ongoing and there is tons of noise. Our guide explains that recent findings lend more credence to the idea that David’s palace resided right here. Interestingly, we can clearly see how David’s palace overlooked the entire ancient city. This is how he would have seen Bathsheba bathing from on his roof. It is a solemn reminder that great men of God have failed before us and we must be on our guard continually against the temptation to think we have arrived.
We travel down into the tunnel systems built by Hezekiah. We also see the shaft Joab used to enter the city of Jerusalem leading to David’s conquest almost 3000 years ago.
2 Samuel 5:8 (ESV) And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”
It is crazy to think about how all of this remains. I’m also inspired by the fact that the nations who lived here before the Jews (Canaan) really did build impressive fortresses that would have intimidated any ancient people. I begin to sympathize with those 10 spies who felt overwhelmed by the obstacles.
Sometimes we like to think we would have been Joshua and Caleb or David or one of the other great conquering heroes in the Old Testament. I’m humbled to consider, perhaps I would have been one of the doubters. Thankfully, our true and better Joshua, Caleb and David – Jesus Christ has conquered our eternal enemy for us! This is the point of all the Old Testament stories, that in Him, we win. Without Him, we can do nothing.
Day 6 tomorrow!